Scottish Christians and Jews unite to combat antisemitism


Groups forged to combat antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment have been launched all over Britain since last summer.

One of the grassroots organisations that began during the Gaza conflict, the Scottish Israel Forum, fell by the wayside in January, but as its former chairman Richard Coats said, "the energy that went into it has diffused into different groups".

Helping these activists is Nigel Goodrich, a Scottish Christian who has created a platform for advocates of all faiths by setting up Friends of Israel groups in Cumbria and Scotland.

Since October, Mr Goodrich has established seven Friends of Israel branches - in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cumbria, the Highlands, Grampian and north-east Scotland - with two more currently in the works for Stirling and the borders.

Speaking while marching in Geneva to protest the UN report on the Gaza conflict, which accused Israel and Hamas of war crimes, Mr Goodrich said his motivation came from his faith.

"I believe in God, and the god I believe in is of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. He loves Israel, the land and its people, so I have to as well.

"The groups exist to campaign against antisemitism and attempts to delegitimise Israel - the new antisemitism - by being relentlessly positive about Israel, showing people the glory that is Israel, and giving them true information."

He was proud of all the different bodies' work over the past nine months. Edinburgh FOI attracted 220 supporters to its opening conference, and plans to set up a stall in the city centre every week to combat pro-Palestinian propaganda.

The Glasgow group, which will also have a stall, protested the Palestinian play The Siege outside Tron Theatre with silent vigils on all four nights of its run earlier this year. The Cumbria branch is expecting to welcome between 200 and 300 supporters to its conference in October.

For Mr Goodrich, this is just the beginning. "I see more groups springing up in the future. Now's the time - tomorrow is too late. Israel is in a fight for its life and the impetus is there. I'm exhausted because I also have a day job, but you can't not do something if it's really worthwhile."

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